Sport plays a prominent role in the life of all Sedberghians and boys are given the opportunity to excel in a variety of sports or simply participate in a range of activities at a level that suits their needs and ability.
Sedbergh is rare in that it still provides boys with the opportunity to take part in a structured games programme on four afternoons during the week. In addition there is a full programme of fixtures organised for every Saturday afternoon as well as a programme of activities for those not involved in school fixtures.
In the Michaelmas Term as well as the main team sport of rugby, other major sports include sailing and shooting. The School rugby club is among the strongest in the country and while rugby is the main focus throughout the term we recognise that not all boys are suited to the sport and we therefore provide opportunities for boys to pursue activities such as squash, badminton, cross-country, mountain-biking and swimming on a recreational basis during each weekly programme.
In the Lent Term, the main boys' sports are rugby sevens, hockey and cross-country running although there is a much wider range of sports available and regular fixtures are also organised in swimming, basketball, squash, fives and, for Sixth Formers, soccer.
In the Summer Term the main boys' team sport is cricket and the School fields seven sides on a regular basis. In addition the School competes regularly at athletics, tennis and golf, experiencing recent success in all areas, and sports such as shooting and sailing take place throughout the year, pursued on both a competitive and recreational basis.
The Sedbergh School Football Club was founded in 1879 and has gained reputation as one of the very best rugby schools, consistently producing England internationals. Most famously, former England stars Will Greenwood and Will Carling are Old Sedberghians, while a number of OSs are still playing professional rugby, most notably England internationals Phil Dowson, Carl Fearns and James Simpson Daniel. In the last ten years more than 40 school boy Internationals have come through the school. Sedbergh prides itself on playing an open and attacking style of rugby, where players are encouraged to keep the ball in hand and develop their attacking skills.
Sedbergh’s success on the rugby fields has been built through an intensive and comprehensive development program. This program looks to develop talented and highly skilled rugby players who have the ability to play at the highest levels of schools rugby and beyond. The coaching is delivered by staff who have vast amounts of playing and coaching experiences at the very highest levels of the game. The playing programme takes the teams all over the UK in search of the highest quality opposition to challenge themselves against. The playing programme now include fixtures against schools such as Wellington, Millfield, Blackrock College, Dublin and Llandovery College, Wales.
The Football Club is especially proud of the number of boys who represent the school, with up to 14 teams taking the field on any weekend. The playing fields of Buskholme have been described by Phil Dowson as ‘the best setting I have ever played in’. It is safe to say our playing arena is one of the best in the country.
The standard of cricket at Sedbergh has risen significantly in recent times and the School competes alongside the top sides in the country. An all-year-round coaching programme is overseen by Martin Speight (ex Sussex and Durham) who works with the pupils on an individual and small group basis to improve their technique and understanding of the game. Our indoor facilities are excellent with a new 4 bay net system, 1000 lux lighting, 2 bowling machines, video analysis room and software while outside there are 5 grounds and a new 6 bay artificial net system. The 1st XI ground is the envy of many and allows the pupils to play on an outstanding pitch in a magnificent setting.
In the summer eight sides are fielded for whom fixtures are arranged at the appropriate level. The culmination of the 1st XI season is The BOWS Festival in which we compete alongside Wellington College, Brighton College and Oakham in a competition that Sedbergh has won 3 times in the past 5 years. The School enters the 1st XI National T20 competition and has been semi-finalists for the past two years while in the last 7 seasons the U15’s have won the National T20 competition once and been runners up on two other occasions. A major overseas tour takes place every three years with recent destinations including Barbados (twice), South Africa and Sri Lanka.
We have strong links with a number of first-class counties and recent leavers have gone on to contracts with Lancashire, Durham and Sussex. We also support the MCC university system and currently have 3 Old Boys in the Cambridge MCCU squad.
Sedbergh School boasts one of the best environments in the country to run in. Quiet country roads and a complete cross-country course with huge variety of fells. It is the fells where most of the school running takes place, largely due to the iconic and traditional, ‘Wilson Run’ (ten mile). The Running Club has three senior teams (though for some matches it has had up to seven) and junior teams. It is well supported by a variety of staff and caters for all athlete levels from beginner to elite. Some of the Elite runners include the Symonds brothers (currently SKY champions and British Fell Running Champion) and Mel Hyder who, while still at school, won the BOFRA senior women’s title.
We have several fixtures each year both internal and external, with runs such as the Morgan Run, Three Peaks and Cross Country Trials. For the more adventurous, there are some school epics such as the ‘Ten Trigs’ or the ‘Howgill Tops’.
Sailing at Sedbergh provides a variety of experiences including taster sessions for Year 9 and Year 10 programmes, recreational sailing for all pupils at weekends, (when possible) and tuition in sailing skills for those who opt into sailing as a games option. For those who show aptitude and an interest in racing, coaching is available. The Royal Navy CCF also regularly sails on Thursdays in CCF time. We sail and own a variety of dinghies; Toppers, Picos, Laser 1, Laser 2000, 3000, Bosun and Enterprise.
We regularly compete in endurance races such as the National Junior 12 hour race and the Southport 24 hour race, we sail the 3000 dinghy in class events and in handicap events such as the Great North Asymmetric Challenge and compete in club racing at Killington Sailing Association. We have a regular programme of fixtures against Rydal Penrhos and on occasion we take part in the NSSA events and the RYA junior travellers' series.
Hockey started at Sedbergh in the mid 1990s but only really moved forward ten years ago with the building of a sand-based Astro, to coincide with the arrival of girls to the school. The current team are North West Champions.
Boys’ hockey is one of nine sports options in the Easter term. There are five boys teams, ranging from under 14 to 1st team, all of which train most days and play fixtures against other schools on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Both senior girls and boys regularly go on overseas tours, the most recent of which include Holland, Spain and South Africa.
Athletics is our primary sport in the Summer Term for both boys and girls. We have expert coaches and excellent facilities and athletes are encouraged to represent the school in their chosen events in a variety of competitions. Sedbergh enters athletes individually and as teams into national competitions and we are regular qualifiers for the Track and Field Championships as well as having many County and North representatives in all disciplines.
Regular inter-school competitions ensure that athletes are given every opportunity to improve their performances. Sports Day is a huge event at Sedbergh and involves all pupils taking part in a wide variety of athletic events culminating in finals, which highlight our elite athletes at their best. Sedbergh has a fully kitted out strength and conditioning gym, rehab sessions and physiotherapists on site to ensure that the whole athlete is developed and prepared for competition.
Shooting, Fishing & Conservation
The School now has its own driven pheasant shoot nearby. We also have access to two areas for walked-up rough shooting and we have venues for activities such as ferreting and pigeon flighting. Under close instruction, the boys and girls are responsible for all elements of the shoot – from presenting a financial plan to the Bursar for a budget, to getting up at 05:30 once a week to feed the birds. With three days driven shooting and some duck flighting we offer instruction and supervision when shooting, and the syndicate is open to all pupils from year 10 upwards regardless of experience. All game is used in the School and the pupils enjoy a formal end of season dinner in February. The pupils have sourced their own socks for the shoot and are in the process of developing a Shoot Record book. It is possible that next season the School will be able to offer a second shoot.
A small group of Sixth Form pupils have the opportunity to stalk Red and Roe deer. Again the emphasis is on husbandry and conservation with pupils working towards the Deer Management Qualification Level 1. This is within five miles of the School. Fly-fishing was reintroduced to Sedberghians in 2011 and regular Thursday and weekend outings now see us testing ourselves on the still-waters near to Sedbergh and also on the Rawthey.
During the tennis season, 16 courts are often full, with pupils of all abilities coming down to the Astro courts to cram in a healthy set of tennis between tea and prep. Keen tennis players attend training in nearby Kirkby Stephen, with an LTA professional coach, Gary Payton every Thursday and these sessions are reinforced by training at School on Sundays. On Tuesday evenings, the Elites (Tennis Scholars) are invited for a skills session - working with the serving machine lobster, with agility drills, or practicing their net game through mini-tennis.
We now play in the Aegon Boys Autumn Tournament and this is offering matches on Wednesdays against top opposition throughout the North of England. In the Summer term there is the chance to play every day, with professional coaching at least three days a week. We continue to enter the National Aegon Cups, and have a full friendly fixture against our traditional rivals. In addition, there are a couple of school competitions, including The Alban Cup (inter-house round robin doubles event for both Juniors and Seniors) and the Sedbergh Open Championships – a singles competition open to all students, staff and friends of the school.
We have five Winchester Fives courts at Sedbergh and this is the variant of Fives that we predominantly play, although we do also train for Rugby Fives. We have four immaculate courts in a dedicated building opposite Sedgwick House and an additional court in the Evans House yard.
All Year 9 pupils have a taster session in the sport in the Michaelmas term, allowing them to opt for it as their main sport in the Lent term if they so wish, as can any other year group. We currently have large numbers playing every day in the Lent term, including girls, who will be entering the National tournament for the first time this year. Boys play fixtures in the second half of the Michaelmas term and throughout the Lent term. These are against a mixture of school and adult opponents. The season culminates in the National Schools Championships in London.
Our Equestrian Team compete in the National Schools Equestrian Association Competitions (NSEA). The disciplines include Dressage, Show Jumping, Arena Eventing and One Day Events at various heights starting at 70cm and going up to 1m 10. The competitions take place at local, county, regional and national levels against other schools, culminating in the National Schools Championships in October.
We have just returned from a very successful Nationals with nine horses and six riders. We now have a National Champion at the 1 metre Eventing and our 1 metre Show Jumping Team came 8th in the country this October. At Easter our Show Jumping Team came 7th nationally at the National County Championships. The school is flexible in looking after the equine commitments of our pupils wishing to train and compete outside school. However, our pupils are still able to experience all the opportunities that boarding life has to offer at Sedbergh. The school organise Team Training with the British Eventing U18 Northern Coach. It is an exciting time to be an Equestrian Team athlete at Sedbergh School.
Every Thursday afternoon and evening, a caving trip lasting around six hours runs for Year 11 and sixth formers. As experience is gained cavers might expect to regularly descend the classic deep Yorkshire potholes such as Marble Steps Pot, Lost Johns or Swinsto involving a number of descents of up to several hundred feet down maybe a dozen vertical pitches, using SRT (Single Rope Techniques), into the chambers and passageways below. This involves abseiling for the descent, often with technical maneuvers, switching form rope to rope, and on the ascent, prussiking techniques are used with camming devices that permit one to climb the rope. Novice caving trips take place on other days in more horizontally developed systems, which still offer tremendous challenges in negotiating the cave. The leaders have up to several decades of caving experience in the Dales and around the world.